Red Bull says it can celebrate with Honda in 2019 by using party mode for the first time. The energy drink outfit will pair up with the Japanese manufacturer after the latter spent 2018 with Red Bull's junior squad, Toro Rosso.
Red Bull ended its long-standing partnership with Renault at the end of the 2018 season, with the relationship dilapidating in recent years. Red Bull has not been able to contend for titles in the turbo hybrid era, and has been quick to pin the blame on Renault.
And while Honda has, as of yet, been unable to produce power to match front-runners Mercedes and Ferrari, Marko believes that the gains over the winter should put it in the ballpark for 2019.
"The figures make us really optimistic, also with regard to the increase in performance," Marko told Autosport. "For the first time we can also celebrate with a 'party mode'! The Honda engine is already slightly above the Renault engine.
"If you combine our GPS data with the data provided by Honda, we'll be in the Mercedes and Ferrari region. Of course they're not sleeping either. But they are already at such a high level that they can no longer make such jumps. Even if we should be 10 or 15 kW behind, that was no different in our Renault era with the eight-cylinder engine. We can make up for that."
Red Bull took four Grands Prix victories in 2018 - the most it has done across an entire season in the hybrid era. However, it suffered from a number of reliability problems, with the team itself and Renault to blame for differing issues.
Honda's reliability has also been poor since it returned to the sport with McLaren in 2015. And while it has made progress with Toro Rosso in 2018, Marko doesn't believe it will make the gains it needs before the start of the 2019 season.
"We are aware that it will probably be difficult with reliability," said Marko. "Most probably we won't be able to get through the season on three engines. But if you choose the right tracks, you can be back at the top in a few laps.That will be the concept, that we consciously accept engine penalties if necessary."